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Letter: Privatization only way forward

Editor, The Spotlight:

The Albany County Nursing Home is an important issue to me. I’ve spoken many times about my father being a resident there during the final months of his life. The staff showed a deep level of commitment and care that I still see today.

Balancing personal beliefs, experiences and opinions with the need to serve the greater good is the challenge elected officials face. Closing the Albany County Nursing Home does not make sense to me. Operating at a $9 million annual loss does not make sense. Building a new nursing home that will is projected to lose millions does not make sense either. After reviewing all the options, it became clear that we needed to find an innovative solution that addresses the needs of seniors, protects taxpayers and accepts responsibility.

We are glad to have found an operator with particular expertise running and turning around facilities that have financial troubles. I have signed a Letter of Intent with Upstate Services Group to engage in negotiations and seek approval of the County Legislature to turn over operations.

Upstate Services Group has agreed up front to ensure that all current residents are protected and that admission standards in the future do not change. They have also agreed to recognize the existing labor union and work collaboratively with them.

Over the next 10 years, the most conservative estimate for savings to Albany County taxpayers is $70 million. The savings is likely much higher because costs continue to escalate each year at a much faster pace than the rate of Medicaid reimbursement.

Under this agreement, the County will perform $3 million worth of capital improvements that are needed and have been delayed because of the discussion about building a new facility. These improvements will greatly enhance the physical environment for patients and staff. After 10 years, Upstate Services Group has an option for another five-year lease, or they may choose to build their own facility in Albany County.

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